New gameplay footage has been showcased for FromSoftware’s Elden Ring, providing an extensive look at the game’s mechanics, combat and exploration. There was quite a bit to see, both in terms of things that we’re seeing action for the first time and brand-new details. However, it’s interesting to see just how it adheres to the Dark Souls formula while expanding and improving on it in the open world space. Let’s take a look at 10 of the biggest changes that Elden Ring brings forth compared to the Dark Souls series.
Sites of Grace serve as your usual bonfire-like location for saving and restoring health. However, they also deploy Guiding Light which provides a clear indicator for where the player can go next. You’re free to ignore this and explore without any issues, though whether there’s an option to turn off the Guiding Light entirely is unknown. Either way, it’s nice to have something that occasionally points the player in the right direction without feeling overly forced.
The Lands Between consists of six major areas, each having their own big main dungeon and Demigod boss that the player must defeat. But the biggest change from Dark Souls is that you’ll be exploring this world with an actual map. The full map isn’t immediately available to you though – you need to find map fragments to fill it in, revealing more of the world as you play. It’s a nice alternative to climbing towers and unlocking a region or neighboring icons while still encouraging the player to seek out vantage points and scout the terrain with their own eyes. Plus, it further reinforces the fact that you’re completely new to this world and exploring its dangers first-hand.
Markers and Beacons
Of course, much like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the player can add markers to the map to denote different things. If you found a spot with resources or a particularly dangerous enemy that you don’t want to fight immediately, these can be denoted with different markers. There are also beacons, which can be placed on the map and provide a different kind of guiding light while exploring the world.
NPCs and World Events
Much like in other open world titles, there are a number of different events out in the world that players can happen upon. For instance, the carriage that was looted at the camp can be attacked while it’s still traveling, even if your options for stealth are drastically reduced and there are larger foes to fight. Another camp of enemies is seen being assailed by a massive dragon, which the player must then fight.
Weather effects like rain and thunder were also briefly showcased, with the latter seemingly capable of striking the player if they’re not careful. Various NPCs can also be encountered, like Alexander the Iron Fist, who has a massive pot for a body and head (which hasn’t diminished his charming demeanor). You’ll spot him trapped in a hole and have to smack him a few times with a club to get him out. Other NPCs were also seen in Stormveil Castle, including a mysterious sorcerer.
More Combat Options
Staggering foes and dealing Critical Attacks, dodge-rolling and so on carry over from the Dark Souls series. But the sheer amount of weapons and techniques that a single character is capable of wielding in Elden Ring is very cool. During the camp infiltration with the carriage, the player was seen wielding a bow, two-handed sword, double-bladed staff and what seemed to be Sellsword Twinblades. Each sported their own unique moves and techniques, like the two-handed sword firing gusts of wind and a teleporting quick slash.
In the fight against the armor-clad boss in co-op, the player can be seen using a lance and shield while seamlessly deploying different kinds of magic. While Dark Souls did offer a variety of builds with different magic options, Elden Ring appears to expand on this much more (and without having to worry about needing weapons to utilize certain techniques). There’s also the mounted combat, both ranged and melee, which looks great, and adds a whole new dimension to some of the bigger boss fights.
FromSoftware has touted the ability to avoid direct combat and more reliably lean into stealth, and seems to be delivering thus far. Along with knocking foes out with Sleepbone Arrows before executing them, it’s now easier to just sneak through environments to avoid conflict, as seen in the forest with several larger monsters skulking about. While this is no doubt a lesson learned from Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, right down to the crouch-walking, it still mixes up the Dark Souls formula significantly, presenting more build options and variety for those who seek it.
Another game-changer is the ability to gather materials while out in the world and craft items on the go. Again, while this may not seem like a huge deal, it adds a new dimension to the traditional loop of having to purchase items from vendors and prepare before venturing out (or happening upon them by chance in different areas). Now, you can simply hunt for those resources – which drop from hunting birds and beasts among other places – and craft different kinds of arrows and such on the go. It should be interesting to see what other kinds of items can be crafted as one explores The Lands Between.
Spirits were showcased on two occasions in the gameplay preview and didn’t get too much focus. However, these showcase the different ways that they can be used in combat. Players can summon a smaller group of basic melee Spirits to attack foes while hanging back and dealing damage at range with a bow. During a boss fight, though, a larger melee Spirit can help provide cover and offer more damage alongside a front-lining player.
Again, we’ll have to wait and see how build-defining some of these Spirits can be but they’re functioning fairly well from the outset. It’s also worth noting that Spirits can die in combat so it should be interesting to see if there are items or stats to make them tankier.
Multiple Types of Dungeons
As noted before, there are six “major” dungeons out in the world, including Stormveil Castle which houses Godrick the Golden. Just from the footage showcased, it looked fairly complex (not unlike Hyrule Castle from Breath of the Wild). The player can choose to enter from the front or the side, with the former being more heavily guarded while the latter requires more platforming. There are sprawling rooftops with open windows which provide alternate routes; sections with walkways and massive enemies to fight (as spotted in the hallway with all of the hanging limbs); and much more to experience.
It’s a fairly big step above what the Dark Souls series has offered, both in terms of complexity and scale, but there will be smaller catacombs, mines and caves to explore as well. These are full of traps, some familiar foes like skeleton warriors, and the usual invisible wall which hides some treasure. There may also be tough foes or bosses in these locations, and the overall visibility means that one has to be careful while exploring.
Along with everything else, one of the biggest differences between Elden Ring and Dark Souls is just how much smoother the platforming looks. It’s easy to just hop onto a stone wall or creep around on a building’s ledge without issues, opening up new avenues for exploration, not to mention seamlessly executing jumping attacks on enemies. Even while exploring with the Spirit Steed, there will be Spirit Springs that can launch you high into the air, easily traversing more vertical areas on horseback. Fall damage also appears to be mitigated compared to previous Souls-borne titles and more in line with Sekiro, though whether it still chunks some health on the longer falls remains to be seen.